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Saint Catherine of Siena Dictating Her Dialogues, between 1447 and 1449

  • Giovanni di Paolo, Italian, c. 1399 - 1482

Tempera on wood panel

  • Unframed: 11 3/8 × 11 3/8 inches (28.9 × 28.9 cm)
  • 14 × 14 1/8 × 1 3/4 inches (35.6 × 35.9 × 4.4 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Ralph Harman Booth Bequest Fund, Joseph H. Boyer Memorial Fund, Building Endowment Fund, Benson and Edith Ford Fund, Henry Ford II Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Alvan Macauley, Jr. Fund, Laura H. Murphy Fund, Mary Martin Semmes Fund, Edna B. Skelton Fund and General Endowment Fund


This predella panel comes from an altarpiece commissioned by the Sienese guild of the Pizzicaiuoli, purveyors of candles and other dry goods, in 1447. In a series of at least ten paintings Giovanni di Paolo presented the mystical episodes in the life of Catherine (1347–80), a Sienese tertiary of the Dominican order. Contemporary accounts of her life tell that on occasion Catherine would be overcome by rapture, whereupon she was able to explain points of holy doctrine. Her pronouncements, which were dictated to a series of secretaries, were compiled into a book titled The Dialogue of Divine Providence. Because Catherine is depicted with the halo of a canonized saint, it is very possible that this panel was not completed until after her canonization in 1461.

by at least 1482, Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, Altar of S. Christina (Siena, Italy)

until shortly before 1800, Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, rector's room (Siena, Italy). by 1843, collection of Johann A. Ramboux (Cologne and Trier, Germany)

May 23, 1867, auction of collection Ramboux by (J. Heberle/H. Lempertz, Cologne, Germany), lot 118

1867-until at least 1883, collection of Prinz von Karl Anton (Sigmaringen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Germany). until 1913, Dr. Hans Wendland (Basel and Lugano, Switzerland)

1913-1949, sold to Adolphe Stoclet (Brussels, Belgium)

1949, by descent, Michèle Stoclet (Brussels, Belgium)

around 1965, sold to R. Heinemann (Pinakos & Rudolph J. Heinemann, New York, New York, USA)

1966-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Carli, G.C. Notizie di Belle Arti, Ms. Biblioteca Comunale. Siena, cod. VII-20, ca. 1750/75, c. 86t. Milanesi, G. Documenti per la storia dell' arte senese, vol. 2. Rome, 1854, pp. 241-2. Ramboux, J.A. Katalog der Gemälde alter italienischer Meister in der Sammlung des Conservators J.A. Ramboux. Cologne, 1862, pp. 20-21, no. 118. Crowe, J.A. & G.B. Cavalcaselle, ed. A new history of painting in Italy, from the second to the sixteenth century, vol. 3. London, 1866, p. 80. Crowe, J.A. & G.B. Cavalcaselle. A history of painting in Italy, Umbria, Florence and Siena, from the second to the sixteenth century, 2nd ed. Langton Douglas, ed. London, vol. 5, 1914, p. 176 [cites Ramboux collection w/o mentioning S. Catherine series by name]. Primitifs italiens de la Renaissance. Exh. [?] cat., Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts. Brussels, 1921, cat. 21. Van Marle, R. Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, vol. 9. The Hague, 1927, pp. 431-2 [DIA panel described]. Bautier, P. "I primitivi italiani della Collezione Stoclet a Bruxelles," Cronache d'Arte, vol. 17 (1927): pp. 316-7. Berenson, B. Italian pictures of the Renaissance: a list of the principal artists and their works, with an index of places. Oxford, 1932, pp. 245 [cites Stoclet collection's "Seven scenes from the life of St. Catherine]. Burroughs, B. & H.B. Wehle. "The Michael Friesdam Collection." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 27, no. 11 (November 1932): pp. 3-72, p. 34, cat. 54 [DIA picture cited obliquely]. Gengaro, M. "Eclettismo e arte nel Quattrocento senese: Giovanni di Paolo," Diana, vol. 7 (1932): p. 26. Bossio, Visita Pastorale, Ms. Curia Arcivescovile. Siena, 1575, c. 114 [quoted in C. Brandi, La Regia Pinacoteca di Siena, 1933, p. 96]. Exposition de l'art italien de Cimabue à Tiepolo. Exh. cat., Musée du Petit Palais. Paris, 1935, pp. 92-3, no. 202. Berenson, B. Pitture italiane del Rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 211 [cites Stoclet collection's "sette scene della vita di S. Caterina di Siena"]. Pope-Hennessy, J. Giovanni di Paolo. London, 1937, pp. 130-139, esp. p. 131-132, p. 170; (fig. XXXIa) [DIA picture cited). Douglas, R. Langton. "Giovanni di Paolo by John Pope-Hennessy." Burlington Magazine, vol. 72 (January 1938): pp. 43-44, 47, esp. p. 47 [review; dating of S. Catherine series; DIA picture not cited]. Pope-Hennessy, J. "Letter," Burlington Magazine, vol. 72 (February 1938): p. 95 [rebuttle to Douglas regarding dating of S. Catherine panels; DIA picture not cited]. Wehle, H.B. A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish and Byzantine Paintings. Metropolian Museum of Art, New York, 1940, p. 88 [DIA panel mentioned indirectly as part of Stoclet collection's series of S. Catherine of Siena panels]. Brandi, C. "Giovanni di Paolo II," Le Arti, vol. 3, no. 5 (June-July 1941): pp. 319-41, esp. pp. 323, pl. CXX, (fig. 27) [reconstruction; DIA picture not cited specifically]. Salinger, M. "A new panel in Giovanni di Paolo's St. Catherine series." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s. 1 (Summer 1942): pp. 21-28, esp. p. 26, (repr.). Brandi, C. Giovanni di Paolo. Florence, 1947, pp. 36-44, 79-81. Pope-Hennessy, J. "Giovanni di Paolo by Cesare Brandi," Burlington Magazine, vol. 89 (May 1947): pp. 138-9 [caustic review that takes issue with Brandi's dating of S. Catherine panels; supports post 1461 date--DIA picture not cited specifically]. Brandi, C. "letter," Burlington Magazine, vol. 89 (June 1947): p. 196 [rebuttal to Pope-Hennessy's review, argues for his 1447-49 dating of S. Catherine panels]. Kaftal, G. St. Catherine in Tuscan Painting. Oxford, 1949, pp. 37, 120. Brandi, C. Quattrocentisti senesi. Milan, 1949, pp. 99-100, 201-6. Kaftal, G. Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting. Florence, 1952, col. 244 (no. 21a); (fig. 276) (repr. only). Carli, E. La pittura senese. Milan, 1955, p. 224. Coor, G. "Quattrocento Gemälde aus der Sammlung Ramboux," Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch, vol. 21 (1959): pp. 82-5. Coor, G. Neroccio de' Landi, 1447-1500. Princeton, 1961, p. 23 [mentions Pizzicaiuoli altarpiece in general; no specific mention of DIA panel]. The Art of Painting in Florence and Siena from 1250-1500. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co. London, February 24-April 10, 1965, p. 55 [entry by St. John Gore]. Richardson, E.P., ed. Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1966 (3rd ed.), p. 70, (repr.) [caption only]. Byam Shaw, J. Paintings by old masters at Christ Church. Oxford, London, 1967, p. 46. Fernandez-Gimenez, E. O. de. "Giovanni di Paolo: The Life of St. Catherine of Siena," Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 54 (April 1967): pp. 103-110, esp. p. 108 [cited, argues 1447-49 date for S. Catherine series]. "Accessions." Bulletin of the DIA 46, no. 1: annual report (1967): p. 18, (repr. on cover). Berenson, B. Italian pictures of the Renaissance: a list of the principal artists and their works with an index of places. Central Italian and North Italian schools, vol. 1. London, 1968, p. 178; vol. 3, Pl. 608 [as from Pizzacaiuli altarpiece, "S. Catherine dictating to Blessed Raimondo da Capua", ca. 1447-49]. Heinemann, R. The Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. Castagnola, 1969, p. 123. Ziemke, H.J. "Ramboux und die sienesische Kunst," Stadel-Jahrbuch, n.f. 2 (1969): p. 280. Cummings, F. and C. Elam, eds. DIA Illustrated Handbook. Detroit, 1971, p. 80. Os, H. van. "Giovanni di Paolo's Pizzicaiulo Altarpiece," Art Bulletin, vol. 53 (1971): pp. 289-302, esp. p. 292, (fig. 8) [DIA picture cited]. Fredericksen, B. and F. Zeri. Census of pre-19th century Italian paintings in North American Collections. Harvard, 1972, p. 89. Cleveland Museum of Art. European Paintings before 1500X: Catalogue of Paintings Part 1. 1974, cat. nos. 38a-b, pp. 105-110, esp. pp. 105, 109; (fig. 38a) [entry by E. de Fernandez-Gimenez, DIA picture cited]. Torriti, P. La Pinoteca Nazionale di Siena. I dipinti dal XII al XV secolo. Genoa, 1977, p. 316 [cited]. Rosenbaum, A. Old Master Painting from the Collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza. Exh. cat., National Gallery. Washington, D.C., 1979, p. 96 [cited]. Zeri, F. & E. Gardner. Italian Paintings, Sienese and Central Italian Schools: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 24. Pope-Hennessy, J. The Michael Friedsam Collection. New York, 1982?, p. 97d [unpublished mss., Metropolitan Museum of Art]. Pope-Hennessy, J. The Robert Lehman Collection, Italian Paintings, vol. 1. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1987, p. 130, (fig. 58) [DIA panel cited with reference to cat. 52, Saint Catherine of Siena Beseeches Christ to Resuscitate her Mother]. Bianchi, L. & D. Giunta. Iconografia di S. Caterina da Siena. Rome, 1988. Painting in Renaissance Siena. Exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, December 20, 1988-March 17, 1989, cat. 38h, p. 235; (color repr.) [entry by Carl Strehlke, panel mistitled]. Christiansen, K. "Notes on 'Painting in Renaissance Siena,'" Burlington Magazine, vol. 132, no. 1044 (March 1990): pp. 205-212 [general discussion of selected panels from St. Catherine series--DIA panel not cited]. Henshaw, J., ed. A Visitor's Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1996, p. 176, (color repr.). One Hundred Saints: their lives and likenesses drawn from Butler's "Lives of the Saints" and great works of Western Art. Boston, 1993, p. 233, (color repr. only). Boskovits, M. Early Italian painting, 1290-1470: the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. English trans., London and New York, 1990, pp. 104-113, esp. pp.109, 111-12. Torriti, P. La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena. I dipinti. Genoa, 1990, p. 226 [cited]. Turner, J., ed. "Giovanni di Paolo," Dictionary of Art, vol. 12. pp. 714-16, esp. p. 716 [entry by G. Damiani, DIA painting cited].

Giovanni di Paolo, Saint Catherine of Siena Dictating Her Dialogues, between 1447 and 1449, tempera on wood panel. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Ralph Harman Booth Bequest Fund, Joseph H. Boyer Memorial Fund, et al., 66.15.